Jones Laville in Astaphan's documentary
Jones Laville in Astaphan's documentary

Fourteen months after the passage of Hurricane Maria, life in Dominica has started to get back to normal. Schools are open, power and other utilities have been restored to the majority of the island, and slowly but surely, Dominicans are rebuilding their homes.

The situation is far from ideal, but in the midst of the challenges, Dominicans have come together and shown their true potential. After going on to raise over EC $250,000 in relief supplies following the passage of Tropical Storm Erika, J. Astaphan & Co. Ltd. has yet again rallied its partners to donate over $120,000 of building materials to help 17 staff in the rebuilding of their homes, and provided another $100,000 in food and relief supplies in several waves to all their employees during the following weeks after Category 5 Hurricane Maria.

Sharon Sanford, a cook in the Astaphans cafeteria, lost her entire home to Maria, but says that with the assistance she received, she's been able to make "good progress" rebuilding.

"The materials were a great help. It helps you know that you'll get there one day. It might take a little time but instead of having all that expense on our own it's a great push for us," she said.

Sanford recalled the sense of unity that followed in the wake of Maria, and urged Dominicans to remember to continue working together.

"After Maria everyone was together. We would share whatever we have. In my neigbourhood, Pottersville, my neighbour gave me from what whatever she had, and I gave her from what I had, because Astaphans helped us a lot, so when I went home I shared it with her which was good. Everyone was together, but now after a year, everyone's starting to go on their separate ways. We need to remember to keep working together."

Having celebrated 40 years of Independence this year, the takeaway for many Dominicans may not be about what we can do independently, but just how much more we can achieve working together. In line with this theme, Astaphans has released a short video highlighting the experience of one of its most dedicated employees, Jones Laville.

J. Astaphan & Co. Ltd. would like to mention the names of the following companies who took part in the company's relief aid and donations: Friesland Campina (Dutch Lady), Vemco Ltd. (Swiss, Award, Kara, Cafe Brazil), Nutresa (Noel, Colcafe, Chocolisto), Global Perishables, Maderas Industriales, Chief (Chief Branded Products), Ready Pack, Interdas (Ignis), Lensyl Products Ltd. (Lensyl), Connor Bros. (Brunswick), Roto Plastics (Mr. Green, Viking, Tuff Tank), Lifetime Roofing Solutions, Putnam Lumber, and CYG International (Cedar).